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HD and attention

November 29, 2012

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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HD and attention

Q. People suffering from Huntingtons, do they say thing with out reslising it. My father suffers from the condition and he always tells us to shh but then he talks away to us. Its as if he didnt mean to tell us to be quite? Also he doesnt seem to listen we would tell him not to do something you will get hurt or break something and he doesnt listen and continues until he gets shouted at. I know its not right shouting but it seems the only way he will listen.

Ash, UK

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A. Dear Ash,

You are correct in your observations.

People with HD have reduced concentration & attention and are easily distracted. You might notice this as your dad not following conversations and jumping from subject to subject. This tendency will be worse if he’s tired or stressed or if there is background noise (e.g. TV) or activity (e.g. crowds). If you shout you will attract his attention, but it can also be useful to do things like turning off the TV before you have a conversation. If you ask questions or make a comment then keep them simple & don’t make them open ended.

People with HD often have diminished awareness of the effects of what they say or do on others. As a result they might something upsetting or unnecessary or inconsistent & not appreciate that others might find this confusing or upsetting. They also tend to be impulsive & disinhibited. That is, they might tend to act on their whims without thinking about the effect on others (e.g. telling you to shh, but then talk anyway). Again this tendency will probably be more marked when he is tired or stressed.